Bloomberg News

World’s Richest Lose $17 Billion as Slim’s Fortune Drops

May 11, 2012

Billionaire Carlos Slim. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

Billionaire Carlos Slim. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

The world’s richest people lost a combined $17.1 billion this week as concern over JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US)’s $2 billion trading loss and the weakening euro pushed the Standard & Poor’s (SPY:US) 500 Index to a two-month low.

Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, lost the most. The Mexican mogul’s fortune fell by $4.2 billion during the week as shares of his Mexico City-based America Movil SAB (AMXL) dropped 3.82 percent, its biggest weekly loss since December 2011.

The company, the biggest wireless carrier in the Americas, said May 8 it would spend as much as $3.4 billion to buy additional shares of Dutch phone operator Royal KPN NV (KPN) in an effort to further the mogul’s European ambitions.

“America Movil investors see a lot of problems in his bid for KPN,” Jos Versteeg, an Amsterdam-based analyst at Theodoor Gillissen Bankiers, said in a telephone interview May 11. “Slim has found it extremely difficult to get a foothold in the European telecom market. He hasn’t succeeded in Spain, in Italy, in Serbia and in Poland. That must hurt for Latin America’s most successful businessman.”

The 72-year-old has a net worth of $69.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 40 richest people. The combined net worth of the ranking: $1 trillion.

During the week, the euro extended its longest slump since 2008 as Greece struggled to form a government and concern grew that Spanish banks are underfunded. The S&P 500 fell 1.15 percent to 1353.39, while the STOXX Europe 600 lost 0.41 percent to close at 251.97.

Buffett, Gates

Bill Gates, 56, ranks second on the list with a net worth of $61.8 billion, up 10.1 percent year-to-date. Placing third is Warren Buffett. The Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (B:US) chairman is worth $45.7 billion, up $313 million during the week.

“Berkshire will continue to grow,” Buffett, 81, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television after the company’s May 5 shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.

Buffett said Berkshire’s $34 billion purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC in 2010 “will not be the limit,” and that he is looking for bigger acquisitions. The company has $37.8 billion in cash.

Berkshire agreed to provide financing to Coty Inc. in the perfume-maker’s bid to acquire Avon Products Inc. (AVP:US) Coty said it increased its offer for the world’s largest direct seller of cosmetics to about $10.7 billion on May 10.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s fortune fell by $1.1 billion during the week as shares of his Nevada-based Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS:US) dropped 4.53 percent. The 78-year-old is the 12th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $23.7 billion.

Rinehart in Peril

Cheng Yu Tung, Hong Kong’s second-richest man, dropped $705 million. Shares of the tycoon’s Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. (1929), the largest jeweler in China and Hong Kong, fell 2.58 percent. He is worth $19 billion.

Australian mining heiress Gina Rinehart, 58, is in peril of falling off the index. On May 9, Rinehart’s children won the right to a 23.5 percent share of a trust that holds the majority of the family’s $18.2 billion fortune, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Rinehart’s lawyers disclosed she had moved the trust’s vesting date from 2068 to April 30 of this year. The billionaire’s three oldest children, who sued in September 2011 to have their mother removed as trustee, haven’t decided whether to take ownership of their shares in the trust because they don’t know the tax implications, the newspaper said.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York and listed in U.S. dollars.

To contact the reporter on this story: David De Jong in New York at ddejong3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at mmiller144@bloomberg.net


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